This is an archived site. For the latest news, visit us at our new home:


New media artist Megan L. Smith is cycling from Moose Jaw to Regina on Nov. 8 as part of her performance-art piece Riding through Walls.

But instead of wearing a helmet and reflectors, the University of Regina professor will wear an optical display and pedal on virtual highways.

Smith is assistant professor in creative technology within the Faculty of Media, Art, Performance. This project is a way for her to learn about and critique information platforms like Google.

“I’m trying to interject a creative angle into them so that I can pull them apart a little bit, tell a different kind of story through the use of the technologies.”

The trip is another leg in a virtual cross-Canada expedition Smith is making from her studio. She projects Google Street View onto a large screen in front of her stationary bicycle, which she has programmed to move her forward in Street View while she pedals. The trips are live-streamed on YouTube and Google.

Smith began the cross-Canada trip in December 2015 in Victoria, B.C. She cycled through Alberta in June and reached Saskatchewan in October. Each trip takes several hours.

While Smith’s pedaling she stops at tourist attractions and places that people live-tweet to her to visit. She’s also visiting places she’s never been to.

“I’m seeing the beauty of the Rockies, for example. These are experiences that I have never had the opportunity to have. So I’m testing this kind of model so that people could also experience it.”

Along the way, Smith has identified gaps in Google Street View’s information.

“For instance you, the road breaks apart, or you’re thrown off the road into a different space. Or…you bike along a bridge, but then Google hasn’t stitched their images together properly and then I fell through the road below.”

Smith has noticed other things too. There’s no roadkill on the highways, and hitchhikers’ faces aren’t blurred. Smith plans to find out the reasons for these things in the next phase of her research.

John Densoyers-Stewart, Smith’s research assistant, is an engineer pursuing his master of fine arts in interdisciplinary studies. He learned about the importance of interdisciplinary work through his work on the project.

“Engineering and fine arts are often thought of polar opposites but a lot can be accomplished by bringing them together.”

The event will be Smith’s first open-studio event. It will be held from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Riddell Centre. Smith expects to arrive virtually in Regina at 3:30 p.m. There’s a surprise planned for when she arrives and bicycles will be provided for the public to ride.


Related Articles

No related articles